American pilots picket as negotiators work on new contract



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Posted on October 31, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 31 at 7:17 PM

D/FW AIRPORT — Almost 300 American Airlines pilots picketed outside Terminal D at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Wednesday as negotiations on a new contract neared an end.

“This may be the single largest pilot picketing event we’ve ever had at American Airlines... certainly the largest one we’ve had during this contract negotiation,” said Scott Shankland, secretary-treasurer of the Allied Pilots Association.

Pilots called Wednesday’s demonstration an informational picket line. They insist on a new contract similar to what other airlines offer.

At least one pilot from United Airlines joined in this event along with another from US Airways.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents the 10,000 American pilots, has already staged similar demonstrations in New York, Miami, Chicago and Washington D.C.

But some wonder whether this picket is poorly timed, since both sides now say a deal appears imminent.

“Yes, we have made progress,” Shankland said. “Yes, we are nearing the end of bargaining. But no, we do not have a preliminary agreement yet.”

Pilots told News 8 that two contentious issues remain on the table: Outsourcing and pay. While this protest was under way at D/FW, negotiations with the company continued a couple of miles away.

“Our focus is straight ahead on getting a consensual agreement; it has been all along," said American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks. "These kinds of antics aside, that’s our focus."

American said it has made concessions by agreeing to restart contributions to a pilot retirement plan and by not forcing some work rules on them.

But a breakthrough depends on both sides meeting somewhere in the middle.